Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Abran Christopher Bejarano was jailed for robbery after attempting to steal cigarettes from Circle K.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – For the price of a couple of cartons of cigarettes, a man’s freedom has been stripped from him and he faces a possible prison sentence.
Abran Christopher Bejarano, 32, was arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on Friday, March 15, on a single count of robbery – a Class-4 felony.
Officers were initially dispatched at about 5:20 p.m. to the Circle K at 1324 S. 1st Ave. regarding the robbery. According to a store employee, Bejarano had asked for two cartons of cigarettes and when she began to ring him up for the purchase he allegedly attempted to pull a carton out of her hand.
When the theft was unsuccessful, Bejarano then allegedly attempted to take a plastic donation bottle, which ended up breaking open and spilling coins all over the floor. The employee stated that Bejarano then tried to grab a pack of batteries as a last-ditch effort before leaving the store.
The employee and other witnesses described the truck Bejarano had left the area as a passenger and the truck was quickly located. Officers conducted a felony stop on the vehicle at mile marker 134 on U.S. Highway 191 North and Bejarano was taken into custody.
The truck driver said he just met Bejarano at a mandatory work training and that Bejarano had asked him for a ride to the store to purchase cigarettes. The driver said he had no idea of Bejarano’s intentions and was released.
Bejarano denied attempting to steal anything and said he simply pushed the carton of cigarettes away from himself in anger because the store clerk was rude to him. He also denied attempting to steal the donation jar or any other items from the front rack of the store.
While being transported to the jail, Bejarano allegedly became confrontational with the arresting officer. Bejarano allegedly called the officer an epithet and said the officer didn’t deserve his Hispanic surname because he was “not a real Mexican.”
According to Arizona Revised Statute 13-1902, a person commits robbery “if in the course of taking any property of another from his person or immediate presence and against his will, such person threatens or uses force against any person with intent to coerce surrender of property or to prevent resistance to such person retaining property.”
Since the officers believed Bejarano used force in an attempt to wrestle the cigarettes away from the store clerk, the charge escalated from a simple shoplifting charge to the much more serious robbery charge.